Star Gazers, Suits and Blazers

By Elizabeth Bandera

This past weekend was the Mock Trial Houston Regional Tournament, which mock trial teams from all over the country attend in hopes of continuing on to the next round of competition, or the national semi-finals essentially and finally…all the way to the National Mock Trial Championship. Gulp!

(There are a total of 23 regional tournaments all around the country that teams attend.)

My stomach did its fair share of flips and hyperventilating seemed like the norm, but so what? Though it was a very nerve-wracking and stressful tournament, it was still tons of fun! This was our chance to move on to the next round and I felt like our SMU Mock Trial team was the strongest it had been since I first joined.

Friday we began our trip down to Houston, TX for our regional tournament – all of us piled and squished into our own cars, luggage crammed anywhere we could find space. Once we arrived in Houston we checked into our hotel (grabbing a handful of complimentary cookies), ironed all of our suits and outfits for trial (so we could look sharp like those cool cats on CSI: Miami), and started preparing for our first round of competition. Game mode: initiated.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the bizarre world of mock trial, here is a brief synopsis of what it is…
Collegiate Mock Trial is an extracurricular activity which provides undergraduate students of any study the opportunity to compete, via tournaments, on a national level against other universities.
Tournaments consist of trials between prosecution/plaintiff and defense teams. Each team consists of 6-8 members, six of whom actually compete in a given round (three as attorneys, and three as witnesses). Every trial throughout a season focuses on a single case which is distributed at the beginning of every school year.

So, now that you are privy to all that mock trial encompasses, I can continue on in hopes that I will not confuse anyone. Yay!

For this tournament there are 4 rounds – our team participated in two trials as the prosecution and two trials as the defense, which change around witness and attorney roles. Below is a photo of our SMU defense witnesses!

(From L to R – Defense witnesses Elizabeth Bandera, Peter Goldschmidt, and Micaela Watkins)

We all got to play very colorful characters!

On the defense’s side of the case I played a very bubbly, happy personal assistant (comparable to the character Emma from the show Glee if there are any fans out there) who was the personal assistant of the man who had been murdered in the case. Peter played a guido-esqe car dealer (with larger-than-life hair) who knew those involved in the murder and…drum roll please…he won a top-ranked witness award for the tournament! And lovely Micaela played a famous and fabulous Hollywood starlet who provided an alibi for the defendant for the night the murder occurred.

On the prosecution’s side of the case I played a quirky and very awkward, star-gazing nerd who had witnessed the murder discussed in trial. My teammate Kellie Spano played an admitted accomplice to murder and had to cry on the witness stand (which was very believable) and my other teammate Josh Union played a crime scene investigator like those on CSI or NCIS.

And we absolutely could not have a trial without our wonderful attorneys who make the world of mock trial go round! Our attorney’s for the prosecution were Peter Goldschmidt, Micaela Watkins, and Michael Sheetz and our attorney’s for the defense were Michael Sheetz, Kellie Spano, and Ryan Moore. The job of an attorney, in my opinion, is much more daunting than a witness’ role because you constantly have to think on your feet and stay involved with the case throughout the entire trial. All of our attorneys did phenomenally well!

In the end, 8 out of the 22 teams that attended this regional moved on to the next round…we were 9th with a record of 5 wins and 3 losses. However, don’t give up faith, there is a very complicated system of open round bids that will give us a solid chance of moving on to the next round, so never fear! We have a good chance of moving on! Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Below is a photo of our entire team after the tournament.

Wish us luck in these next few weeks! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to move on to Nationals!

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